Temporary Exhibition
Credit: Klaus Wagensonner

Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks

Highlights from the Yale Babylonian Collection

April 6, 2019 – June 30, 2020


Ancient Mesopotamia, “the Land Between the Rivers,” was the birthplace of writing, urban culture, the state, and many other concepts and institutions that shape our world to this day. Stretching from the Tigris to the Euphrates in what is now Iraq and Syria, Mesopotamia produced beautiful and intriguing works of art, myths and epics celebrating gods and heroes, and treatises on mathematics and medicine.


Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks is a groundbreaking exhibition that brings this ancient world to life. Among the 150 artifacts on view are highlights such as:

  • An early account of the heroic king Gilgamesh campaigning to the Cedar Forest to slay the monster Huwawa
  • Tablets with poems by the first named author in human history, the princess Enheduanna
  • The world’s oldest cookbooks with 4,000-year-old recipes
  • Astronomy tablets with the earliest prose descriptions of the celestial constellations

Letters on marriage, raising children, the first day of school, even divorce and adoption, demonstrate that we’re not that different from people living so far away and so long ago!


Almost all objects on view are from the Yale Babylonian Collection, founded in 1911 and today one of the major repositories of Mesopotamian artifacts outside Iraq. At a time when Mesopotamian cultural heritage is gravely endangered, these artifacts seek to give voice to this ancient civilization and allow Mesopotamia to “speak” again through its texts and imagery.


Photo Gallery

Click on any of the thumbnails below for an up-close look at some incredible specimens from Ancient Mesopotamia Speaks.



Babylonian Cooking

This exhibition prominently features several recipes translated from clay tablets, including a video presentation which shows modern-day interpretations of these meals.  Learn how to cook them at home here: Babylonian Cooking



The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History gratefully acknowledges the

following for their contributions and support of this exhibition.

Victoria K. DePalma


The Viscusi Fund of the Department of Near Eastern 

                Languages & Civilizations, Yale University


Hawkinson Conservation and Exhibition Fund


The Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage